You’ve heard of the old woman who lived in a shoe, but what about the old man that lived in a clay pot? Welcome to Casa Terracota (Terracotta House), affectionately known to locals as ‘Casa de Flintstone’ (the Flintstone House). It’s certainly an alternative housing solution.


TL;DR

Casa Terracota is a 500 sqm (5,400 sq ft) house made entirely of clay...
It was designed and is owned by 69-year-old Octavio Mendoza and is located in Villa de Leyva, a colonial mountain village 95 miles north of Bogota, Colombia. Each section was baked for 30 days.

Deep in Colombia, there is a sustainable home with a difference.

alternative housing
Image credit: Casa Terracota

The work of a lifetime

The resident and designer of the building is 69-year-old Octavio Mendoza, who spent most of his career designing homes, commercial buildings and churches, but has named Casa Terracota his “life’s work”.

The project began with a single question posed by one of his nieces. As Octavio Mendoza created a small clay pot, she posed the question: “What you’re doing now, could you transform that into a habitable house?” From there the idea was born.

Construction began in 1999 and the 500 sqm (5,400 sq ft) structure was “completed” in 2016 however, it like many great works of art, is an endless piece that he will never truly be “finished”.

unusual alternative house design
Image credit: Casa Terracota

A victim of its own success

Originally Mendoza intended to live in Casa Terracota, however, the alternative house’s popularity with tourists meant that he has now moved to a smaller “artist house”.

People came to visit without permission, so when I went to the bathroom to shower, I ended up meeting with a troop of visitors who wanted to visit Casa Terracota. – Octavio Mendoza

Burn it down!

The clay was baked using the heat from the combustion of “coke” coal, which Mendozza insists is much better for the environment than coal from wood.

Each section was baked for an incredible 30 days and left to cool for another 30 days. Even after this period of time, only the outer 7 centimeters is solid. The interior of the walls remains uncooked earth.

The best thing that could happen to the Casa Terracota is that it burned down because that would give it greater resistance. The more it is burned, the more resistance it acquires. – Mendoza

Ecological

Mendoza is an environmental activist so it’s no surprise this building comes with green credentials.

The furniture is made from clay. Solar panels are used to generate hot water. Even the dishes, were made by hand from locally mined clay, the beer mugs are made from recycled glass and, the light fixtures and decorations from scrap metal.

In contrast to other sustainable housing projects, such as the Marine-doc Estate and Goldsmith Street, there is no steel and concrete to be found.

The design

The general design with its flowing, organic shape is reminiscent of Antonio Gaudi and there are even large splashes of mosaic decorating the house.

The unusual home is surrounded by lush green gardens, ponds, sculptures and other curiosities.

Visiting

If you want to see it for yourself it’s open for tourists and you won’t run into him in the shower anymore!

Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota
Image credit: Casa Terracota

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